29 Jan 2016

'Buddha' prisoner back in NZ

3:39 pm on 29 January 2016

A New Zealander jailed in Myanmar for insulting Buddhism has landed in Auckland.

New Zealander Philip Blackwood being led into a court in Yangon, Myanmar.

New Zealander Philip Blackwood is led into court during his trial in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: SUPPLIED

Philip Blackwood was sentenced to two-and-a-half years' jail with hard labour in March for using an image of Buddha wearing headphones to promote a cheap drinks night at the bar he managed.

The 33-year-old from Wellington was released early under a presidential amnesty.

His cousin, Chris Blackwood, said Mr Blackwood's parents were delighted at his release.

"His end destination is back home to Wellington. I can imagine, after more than a year of agony for them, it's going to be just such a relief to have him back in the country and home."

In an interview before his cousin left Myanmar, Mr Blackwood told Britain's Evening Gazette it was proving difficult to get him out of the country.

His conviction limited the countries he could enter on his way home and there were fears of attacks by those who believed he should have stayed in jail, he said.

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